Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit ~ Parker J. Palmer

At a critical time in American life, Parker J. Palmer looks with realism and hope at how to deal with our political tensions for the sake of the common good—without the shouting, blaming, or defaming so common in our politics today.

In his newest book, Parker J. Palmer builds on his own extensive experience as an inner life explorer and social change activist to examine the personal and social infrastructure of American politics. What he did for educators in The Courage to Teach he does here for citizens by looking at the dynamics of our inner lives for clues to reclaiming our civic well-being. In Healing the Heart of Democracy, he points the way to a politics rooted in the commonwealth of compassion and creativity still found among “We the People.”

“Democracy,” writes Palmer, “is a non-stop experiment in the strengths and weaknesses of our political institutions, local communities, and the human heart—and its outcome can never be taken for granted. The experiment is endless, unless we blow up the lab, and the explosives to do the job are found within us. But so also is the heart’s alchemy that can turn suffering into compassion, conflict into community, and tension into energy for creativity amid democracy’s demands.”

Healing the Heart of Democracy names the “habits of the heart” we need to revitalize our politics and shows how they can be formed in the everyday venues of our lives. Palmer proposes practical and hopeful methods to hold the tensions of our differences in a manner that can help us restore a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”
Biography PARKER J. PALMER is a writer, teacher and activist whose work speaks deeply to people in many walks of life. He is founder and senior partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal. His books include “A Hidden Wholeness,” “Let Your Life Speak,” “The Courage to Teach,” “The Active Life,” “To Know as We Are Known,” “The Company of Strangers,” “The Promise of Paradox,” “The Heart of Higher Education,” and “Healing the Heart of Democracy.” He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley, as well as eleven honorary doctorates, two Distinguished Achievement Awards from the National Educational Press Association, and an Award of Excellence from the Associated Church Press.

In 1998, the Leadership Project, a national survey of 10,000 educators, named him one of the thirty most influential senior leaders in higher education and one of the ten key agenda-setters of the past decade. In 2010, he was given the William Rainey Harper Award (previously won by Margaret Mead, Marshall McLuhan, Paulo Freire, and Elie Wiesel). “Living the Questions: Essays Inspired by the Work and Life of Parker J. Palmer,” was published in 2005. In 2011, the Utne Reader named him as one of “25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World”–people who “don’t just think out loud but who walk their talk on a daily basis.” (See the Oct-Nov 2011 print or online edition.) He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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